How to Turn Your Deferral into Admission
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Robert Crystal and Isha Dalal in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
What Is a Deferral?
A deferral is one potential decision for college admissions, particularly for early applicants. Students who apply to early decision, early action, or selective choice deadlines will receive an admission notification in December, with possibilities of denial, acceptance, or deferral.
Students who go through the deferral process will receive communication from the university, which will thank them for their application and defer them to the regular round of admissions, where their application will be re-reviewed and a final decision provided in the spring.
The deferral process is quite common, and many students go through it each year. While it is understandable to feel discouraged when deferred, remember that you still have a chance. While a deferral is not a yes, it’s also not a no, and you could still be admitted through the regular admissions process.
Each year, many students put in great effort to help turn their deferrals into admissions and end up thriving at universities and being wonderful additions to their classes.
What to Do If You’re Deferred
Once you get your deferral notification, you can be in contact with the university from then until spring, when you’ll receive your final decision. You must decide what type of communication you want that to be. In general, deferred students can choose from three options to communicate with the school.
The first option is to say nothing and just wait for your admission decision in the regular round, which some people definitely do.
The second option is to provide some kind of written communication to the school, thanking them for the deferral notification and passing along a continued letter of interest to the university. In this letter, many students include what they’ve been doing in the time between receiving the deferral and waiting for regular admission decisions to be released. When submitting a letter of continued interest, be mindful of what you put into it, and consider whether it adds value to your application.
The third option is to provide updates about your own academic and extracurricular life to the university. These could include awards earned, new leadership positions appointed, scholarships awarded, academics achieved, or similar accolades.
Choosing an Option
Each option will ultimately provide some sort of result when admissions decisions are released. Navigating the deferral process can be incredibly personal and should depend on what is most likely to maximize your chances. That said, to be in control of your admissions process, pursuing either option two or three is usually the best strategy.
You will need to provide a letter explaining what you’ve been doing with your time and updates about any awards, accolades, or academic accomplishments that have come your way. In addition to submitting a letter of continued interest and updates, you will also be asked to submit your mid-year report to the university so it can review your first-semester grades.
Maximizing Your Deferral Strategy
As you navigate the deferral communication process, there are a few essential things to keep in mind.
Be strategic with the pace and type of communication that you use. Avoid bombarding admissions offices with small updates, like individual emails about joining the debate club or attending a Model UN conference.
It’s best to update the school in a way that makes sense, especially since admissions officers are typically busy. Provide them with brief, concise, and clear communication that expresses your continued interest in and preference for the university, along with your own updates, and that acknowledges the fact that admissions officers are reviewing thousands of applications and their time is valuable.
Work with a College Counselor
Besides being intentional with the timing and pace of communication, it can be helpful to seek the support of a college counselor when navigating this process. In a one-on-one session, you can gain insight into what exactly to include in a letter or update, work on the language and the flow of the letter, and ensure that it’s going to the right place so someone actually reads it.
Finally, don’t forget that the deferral process is not a no. It can absolutely be a yes in the spring, and many students do receive an acceptance letter after being deferred. It just means that the application has to be looked at one more time.